I know tons of people who find themselves lost or confused, feeling completely unsure of where they want to go next. “Do what makes you happy,” people say, and the response in our heads is, “Screw you.”
Because that’s not so easy.
And why is that? If wanting to be happy is normal (and I think that it is), why don’t we just automatically know how to be happier?
There are lots of possible answers to that. It could be that we are told so often what we should do that we forget what it is we want. It could be that we are told so many things by so many sources – family, friends, media, society – that we forget what our own voice sounds like. It could be that our values conflict – we struggle to reconcile what we enjoy, for example, with what will provide food for our family. It could be that humans are really, really bad at predicting our own futures.
There many reasons why figuring out what makes us happy is hard. Sorting through that is a process that takes longer than the few minutes it takes to read a blog post, but this can be a start.
Ask yourself these two questions (which I’m totally co-opting from a speech Gretchen Rubin gave at WDS earlier this month):
1. Whom do you envy, and why?
I heard this question for the first time when I was sitting in a concert hall in Portland listening to Gretchen Rubin speak from the stage. “You,” I thought immediately, “I envy you, because you get to write and speak about happiness all the time.”
And that’s how I knew that I was on the right track.
When I go onto Facebook, the people that I envy the most are those posting travel photos and photos from impressive athletic feats. I want to go to more places and I want to overcome my fear of my body.
2. What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?
When Gretchen asked this question I instantly remembered making up dance routines with my neighbor and performing for no one on the bus bench outside our house. I don’t know if I was exactly 10, but this was the very first thing I thought of when I remembered having fun as a kid.
I’m not planning to join a dance troupe, but maybe I’ll look for a local Zumba class. Or maybe I just need to get my butt on stage doing more speaking. Maybe I’ll let that memory percolate until the kernel of it becomes more obvious.
Now it’s your turn.
Whom do you envy and why?
What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?
I hope you’ll share your answers in the comments.